19 May 09 - Global exit strategy from crisis needed, symposium concludes

Symposium on financial crisis asks, What next?A two-day symposium that drew broad commentary on the impact of the world economic crisis emphasized that the global downturn requires a response that takes all countries and peoples into account.

UNCTAD's first public symposium concluded with a call for an inclusive response to the global economic downturn that will reform the international financial system, protect developing countries and the poor, and supply funding and effort to maintain and create jobs.

Specific recommendations included a debt moratorium for heavily indebted developing countries, so that their governments have more money available for stimulus measures for their economies; a currency exchange-rate system that is more stable; and a global jobs programme.

Speakers over the two days of meetings said repeatedly that recent reports of economic improvement in industrialized countries should not be taken to mean that the downturn is over, and should not lead decision makers to ignore the profound and long-lasting effects on poor countries.

The symposium urged the United Nations to play a prominent role in responding to the crisis, saying that the organization's broad membership make it the best institution for acting in the interests of all countries.

H.E. Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, President of UNCTAD's Trade and Development Board, who chaired the symposium's plenaries, cited a need to accelerate efforts to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals; to address structural problems in global economic governance, "which affect many people, including women and children;" and to pay special attention to the effects of the crisis on least developed countries and on mounting unemployment and poverty.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told the meeting that the intent of the gathering - to give voice to the voiceless - had proved valuable. "The rest of the world cannot be an afterthought," Mr. Supachai. "These matters are so often discussed at the global level, by the powerful. The innocent bystanders should be heard from."

Regional efforts to stimulate economies, provide financing for trade and economic growth, and protect currency stability, also were recommended at the symposium. Such efforts were characterized as building on the rapid growth in "South-South" trade and related economic cooperation in recent years.

Titled "the global economic crisis and development - the way forward," the public symposium - UNCTAD's first -- grew out of the organization's efforts to implement the "one UN" concept and UNCTAD's stepped-up policy of responding to global developments and broadening debate on global issues. Numerous civil-society and private-sector organizations attended the symposium; there were some 360 participants in plenary and "breakout" sessions.



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